Vietnam-era Protest Doc Now Streaming

“Two Weeks in May,” the University-produced documentary on student unrest during the Vietnam war, is now available to stream from Cornerstone, the University’s collection of scholarly works.

Through interviews with former students and faculty, the 2018 documentary chronicles a period in 1972 in which student protests on campus disrupted not only University life but overtook streets and highways in the city of Mankato, prompting clashes with law enforcement.

The DVD of the documentary is available at the library.

The film is based on the book “Out of Chaos” by the University’s president at the time, James Nickerson. Nickerson’s abilities to effectively address students – some of whom occupied his offices — are largely credited in the documentary with  keeping the protests from worsening in damage and violence.

For months, a student film crew from the University’s Film and Media Studies program conducted dozens of interviews, shot and edited the documentary under the direction of librarian Monika Antonelli. The film debuted Oct. 2, 2018 to a packed audience in the Centennial Student Union Ballroom.

A march on Mankato’s Front Street, May 1972

One of the student activists who was interviewed in the film was Mark Halverson, now a lawyer in Mankato.

“Considering it was 45-50 years after the fact,” Halverson said, “and the people that were doing it weren’t even born for the most part when it happened, I think they did a pretty good job with what they put together.”

From working on the film, graduate student Nathan Grabowska got a surprising education about a chapter in his hometown.

“I think it was incredibly eye-opening,” said Grabowska, whose jobs on the film included research, interviewing and camera work. A 2016 graduate from the Mankato area, said he had not known of the unrest until joining the film project.

 Grabowska had been taking an independent-study course with film instructor Steve Rybin, who encouraged him to join the film project. It’s a move he says he’s glad to have made.

“It feels like this lost piece of history for the Mankato area,” he said.

In addition to the streaming version of the film, the  Memorial Library still has copies of the DVD for sale at $10 each. 

The film is free to stream and available here:

https://cornerstone.lib.mnsu.edu/university-archives-msu-publications/2/

An Oct. 2, 2018 panel discussion among several sources interviewed in the film is here:

https://cornerstone.lib.mnsu.edu/university-archives-msu-publications/1/